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How To Buy The Best CRM Software With Confidence

CRMs Are Not Puppies

The problem most people make when shopping for small business CRM software / Marketing Automation tool is that they treat this like they are shopping for a puppy:

It (the user interface) is pretty...and it's free to a good home so what could go wrong?”

While you should do your best to avoid paying for things you don’t need, it is better to pay more than you wanted than less than you should on anything, including (trained) puppies and CRMs.

That’s why I created a free video and planning document entitled “Process Before Login.”

Before You Buy Any CRM...

After 24 years of dealing with databases from the Air Force to Salesforce at Dell to selling HubSpot, Infusionsoft, and Ontraport, few people know—I mean REALLY know—what they need out of their software.

Don't Go Shopping When You're Hungry

Buying a CRM for your small business without mapping things out in detail ahead of time is like going grocery shopping when you're hungry.

You'll buy the first thing that looks (smells) good, and/or you'll buy too much, and/or you'll pay too much because your emotions will override your logic as you fill your cart with everything you think you must have right now!

You need to map out your "process before logging in," then go shopping.

It’s no different than when you’re shopping for a house:

We have three young kids, a dog, my husband likes to restore cars, I work from home, we have a large extended family, and we like to entertain a lot. So we need at least a 4-bed/3.5 bath with a home office, a 3-car garage, a large kitchen, walk-in pantry, in a neighborhood with sidewalks, parks, in a good school district, close to shopping…”

When it comes to small business CRMs, entrepreneurs say

I found 7 free CRMs, 115 low-cost CRMs, and 98 expensive CRMs. My favorite CRM is of course free (and their cartoonish mascot on the home page had nothing to do with my decision—but it is cute so their corporate culture must be cool and progressive, like me) so I’ll start with that one. Besides, it's free so if I don't like it I can change at any time…no big deal.”

So entrepreneurs go into buying a CRM for their small business with the intention of quitting!! (It's like demanding a prenup for your marriage, but I digress.)

Sure, getting started with this free CRM won’t cost you any money out of pocket up front, but what’s your time worth?

My Biggest Regret About HubSpot Is...

What’s an average deal worth? (This is a constant theme, which is what prompted me to write “How an $800 ‘savings’ cost you $19,616.99.”

Let’s say you’re doing $240,000/year in sales and your average sale is $2,000 each. That’s 120 deals per year—10 per month—and $20,000 per month in sales.

If you had the correct CRM with effective marketing automation, a sales pipeline, sales enablement for your sales staff, and compelling content and offers, you could convert at least 20% more deals. (That's an extra $4,000/mo, or $48,000/year.)

So you go in search of a CRM with the primary emphasis being that it is free, like "Joe" from Europe did a month ago.

We have been discussing which CRM to buy - now I have been 1 month at (ACME CRM, Inc) and implement it now - somehow.
Your article is so true and now I would gladly pay you those 500USD for CRM selection as it took me 40hours for sure.
What do you need to give me a quote or bring my processes to a next level."

Now that you have your free CRM you get started with their setup wizard.

  • You upload your contacts from your CSV file,
  • Create your signature,
  • Upload your logo,
  • Connect your Gmail/Outlook,
  • Connect your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts,
  • Then send a quick email to yourself to confirm everything is working

…and then the phone rings

  • A client is unhappy…or
  • A huge opportunity that you thought you lost bubbles up again...or
  • Your computer crashes…or
  • Your water heater bursts…or
  • Your kid's school calls and you have to go pick up your child because their tummy hurts…

Take The CRM Quiz

And so you promise yourself

As soon as I get back, I'll dive into mastering this CRM!"

But it's never that simple, is it?

The info for that unhappy client is in your project management tool, which everyone knows and is comfortable with, so you update the project and assign tasks from there because, well, it's easy and convenient...and this client is important, DANG NABBIT!

The quoting tool is not yet connected to your new CRM and it's urgent that you get the quote out to that huge opportunity that you thought you lost, so you and your team update the files and the quote in your old system..."but only this one last time because this client is important, DANG NABBIT!"

When your computer / server goes down you MUST catch up by using your old tools and processes because you didn't account for that lost time and besides, you're so frustrated and distracted you just can't focus on learning something new right now. But it's not really that big of a deal since your new small business CRM is free.

When "life happens" and your water heater bursts and floods your home (that happened to me two years ago) and your kids get sick (with seven kids it seems someone always has something going on), it can really set you back days if not weeks, which can turn into months, which can turn into 10's of thousands of lost revenue and profits because you're not depositing those 20% gains.

Sure, that free CRM company has support, but it's limited chat and/or email support with a 24 to 48-hour response time. But their knowledge base is pretty good...when you're not too frazzled and tired to use it and mine it for the information you need.

But when time is of the essence, you go back to what you know as the Greek poet Archilochus wrote 2,700 years ago:

We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

How To Control Every Sale

After several weeks—or even months—go by you commit to finally mastering this wonderful, free CRM for your small business because it holds such promise (and not because of their cool logo).

So you carve out time after the kids go to bed and you really dig in 4-5 nights per week and after a couple of weeks you start to understand this marketing automation thingy you have.

In time you manage to create a half-decent free report for lead generation...and you create a rather attractive landing page to convert your visitors into leads…and you string together a couple of follow-up emails to nurture those leads into hot prospects…and then IT happens.

  • Your best salesperson quits.
  • An employee does something stupid...and it's documented on social media.
  • You receive a one-star Yelp review, which derails a big deal you're working on.
  • A holiday weekend comes around and you actually unplug for 72 hours...and forget dang-near everything you learned about your CRM-thingy.
  • The end-of-quarter approaches and you're nowhere near your goals so you set aside this CRM-mastery project because, well, it's urgent that you hit your quarterly goals.
  • You get an email from another of the free CRM companies you were evaluating and you see they have features 18-c and 21-b that you wish you had, so you start a free trial with them just to "cover all your bases."

And before you know it you’re back in your old routine of using your inbox to track your to-dos and Google Sheets to track your opportunities and Slack to track the servicing of your customers...and your kids want to have friends over and your spouse wants to go to dinner…and you dabble in your other free CRM because features 18-c and 21-b really do seem important…and another month and another $4,000 in lost opportunities are lost.


Fast forward six months, countless hours reading the online FAQs of your free CRM and scrolling through all of the menus…and you call a CRM expert like me and ask

Why should I pay a setup fee and more per month when I have this perfectly fine free CRM {with features that we both know you don’t use and don’t need} sitting here ready to go with my logo...and it’s even connected to my Twitter account? Hmmm?”

But we both know that you know the answer to that question.

Get The 21 Sales Secrets

By going it alone; by going the “free” route; by going with all the bells and whistles, you’ve lost sight of the reason you’re buying a CRM / Marketing Automation platform for your small business in the first place: to grow your sales without growing your staff.

The reality is, if you go it alone, you’ll only use 5% of even your favorite tool.

This applies to things you've used every day for a decade, like your iPhone. How do I know? Check out this short post and quick video I made entitled "Use This Hack To Make More Sales With Your iPhone" and answer honestly if you've a) even heard of his trick, and b) are using it even a little bit.

Heck, I bet you're barely using your DVR at home, your satellite radio, or even your microwave, let alone the smart TV you look at every day.

That’s why Apple has the Genius Bar.

They help you get that next 5% out of your device and it’s so impactful to your efficiencies and satisfaction with the device that you buy another and another then you get an Apple Watch and an Apple TV and a second Apple TV until you're an Apple family.

The same is true with my assistance on your small business CRM. (I'm writing this on the HubSpot platform, which I've used since 2014, but I've also used Infusionsoft since 2008, and Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, and Nimble since 2014 as well.)

Related Podcasts & Demos of Small Business CRMs:

Yes, you’ll have to invest $500 to $6,000 with me to get started.

Yes, you’ll pay $99 to $2,400/mo for the CRM.

Yes, you may choose to invest $500 to $5,000 more per month to have my team and I assist you with accelerating your growth.

Yes, you’ll have to spend hours in private, recorded, one-on-one training with us to implement your CRM to its fullest in the shortest amount of time.

Yes, you’ll have resources such as my private sales training community and Inner Circle programs and more to help you grow quickly.

Yes, you’ll have unlimited, free tech support. (24/7 phone support if you go with HubSpot.)

Yes, you’ll actually start to capture those 20% increases in sales (I've had clients grow 30% and even 100% in 90 days) by following proven best-practices in sales and marketing.

Yes, you’ll have an extra $1,000 or $5,000 or $20,000/mo in your bank account when you get this all going.

Yes, that $500 to $6,000 down and $99 to $2,400/mo will then seem like peanuts.

Yes, you may be tempted to smack yourself as you realize how much time, money, and frustration the “free and cheap CRM" cost you when all you really wanted was more leads, more clients, more referrals, and more testimonials, which I'll show you how to do as part of my ABCDE Sales and Marketing Automation System™, which is something you'll learn and implement as we help you get started with your new CRM.

But if you’re still not sure which is the best CRM for you, check out “Which is the Best CRM for You?” and take the free survey and find out.

Now that’s a great use of FREE!

Have Wes Coach You For 90 Days